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No authority here

In yesterday’s BPI Open Door conversation with Minister he brought up an interesting topic that I have failed to blog about in the past and that is given versus perceived authority that we have.

When you complete you Executive Protection course and you are on a detail, whether armed or not, many specialists feel they have this inherent authority to do and perform matters as if they are sworn officials.  Understand this, eventhough you are contracted to perform protection of someone there is no added authority under your belt.  You have just as much power as an electrician or sanitation manager.  It’s true!!!!  Flashing security, or Executive Protection Specialist credentials has no say in the matter.  You might as well show your public library card, because it carries the same weight.

Any authority we have is either perceived by our professionalism or given to us by our client and/or protectee.  The RIGHT to carry does not give you any additional mandate or conditional authority or position to demand anything.  How you carry yourself and present yourself can give a perception of authority and that’s fine.  But there is a fine line between what is perceived and what you can get.

Your presentation in person or phone can give the perception that you are in a higher capacity than you really are.  That can go a long way.  However, this introductory dialogue can also handicap you and your team for the rest of your visit.  If you put aside your idea of some imaginery super power you have, you’ll be able to get just about anything you need or want.  Once you’ve broken the ice with the right person you’d be surprised at how much you can get from that point on.

I have seen private teams arrive on an apron, get out of their vehicles with their principal and start shoving, pushing and putting their hands on pedestrians who are perceived to be in their path.  YOU CAN’T DO THAT.  The mere touching of someone can be considered as “Battery” under most state laws.  You have literally started on the wrong foot.  Given the same situation with a more professional stance, people recognize what they see and in most cases, want to get out of your way because of the “Perceived” authority you have in your professional appearance.  Oddly enough, what plays a part in their perception is how you are dressed.  You may be chuckling now but it is true.  How you deploy from the vehicles is another way to either garner, gain or lose perceived authority.  There are times that we will deploy “slick” so that there is no attention at all given to the fact that the person in the rear right (position 4) even has security.  During those times we meld into the environment.  No perceived authority needed.  But all is takes is one joker on your team who has his wiring all jacked up and has that insatiable urge that says, “I need to be seen and known that I am providing protection” that will remove the vail of the quiet professional.

This is a constant battle amongst specialists.  The constant polarity of having more authority than you have versus the reality that you really don’t.  The silent professional in private security is really the plumber that knows protection.  There, I said it.

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